Remaking the Yankee bullpen

Can Robertson emerge from the darkness to save the bullpen?

If there’s one area of concern on the 2010 Yankees it’s been the bullpen, despite yesterday’s fine effort. More specifically, the problem has been the bridge to Mariano Rivera, who at age 40 is remarkably having one of his best seasons. I’ll go through the issues one by one and then propose some changes, all internal and none of which involve a trade. I’m not big on giving up talent for relievers due to their volatile nature and the learning curve involved with how to use them. Might as well just go with internal options that you are more familiar with and see if they can do the job.

-Joba Chamberlain has been put on notice by Joe Girardi, but unless he starts dominating (ala  Joba 07) it’s hard to imagine him being able to doing anything to regain the trust of fans and his manager. We all know his peripherals have been good, but he’s been far too combustible in his current role.… Click here to read the rest

Its Time To Make Those Tough Bullpen Decisions

The banged-up Yankee roster had to resort to using Javier Vazquez as a long reliever last night. I actually give Joe Girardi a lot of credit for foresight – he skipped Javier in the rotation in part to take a start away from his worst starting pitcher, but also in part to allow the team to use their 5th starter as a long man while Sergio Mitre recovered from his spot start. However, he appeared only after the Yankee bullpen blew yet another lead. After Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain, Alfredo Aceves, and Sergio Mitre, the Yankee bullpen has been a disaster this season.

I definitely expected the group of David Robertson, Alfredo Aceves, Chan Ho Park, Damaso Marte, and Joba Chamberlain to be an effective bridge to Mariano Rivera. Instead, they have been a glaring weakness on an overall strong team. With injuries to key players, including the effective Aceves, the Yankees can’t afford to let their bullpen plod along all season in the middle innings.… Click here to read the rest

(Once again) A Young Man’s Game

Girardi’s selection of Ramiro Pena is interesting, and signals a shift in the Yankee thinking and the game as a whole. For so many years under Torre, the Yanks would favor veterans in the bullpen and on the bench, saying that the kids “need to play everyday”. Now the Yanks have a bullpen of mostly young, homegrown arms and went with Albaladejo for the final pitching spot over veteran Brett Tomko. Then Girardi selects the young Pena over the older Angel Berroa for the last roster spot.

This tells you Girardi believes the game has shifted. He has said so many times recently, including friday morning at the WFAN breakfast. The days of having older players who maintain their production into their late 30’s is becoming a thing of the past. Tom Verducci has a piece up on SI detailing the shift in the ages of highly productive players recently, and the trend line in average age is clearly down. It’s easy to speculate as to why.… Click here to read the rest

Final Roster Spots: 7th Reliever

Throughout the day, I will be looking at the battles for the final spots on the Yankees roster: the last reliever, the battle for CF, and the utility infielder fight. I’ll start with the 7th reliever.

As of now, it seems clear that Mariano Rivera, Brian Bruney, Damaso Marte, Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez, and Phil Coke will make the opening day roster barring injury. It was assumed for most of spring training that the Yankees would carry a long reliever to fill that final slot, with Dan Giese, Alfredo Aceves, and Brett Tomko being the candidates. However, Joe Girardi suggested this afternoon that the battle for the final relief spot is more complicated than that:

So it looks like Joe Girardi may not take a long reliever after all.
This morning at 8:30 a.m., Girardi talked about the competition between Brett Tomko, Dan Giese and Alfredo Aceves, discussing the importance of today’s game since all three were pitching.
But when someone asked Girardi if the rest of the bullpen was pretty much settled, the manager said something interesting.

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A-Jax, Burnett Continue To Impress, Edwar Back On Track

Here are the notables from last night’s contest against the Red Sox:

1) Austin Jackson hit a grand slam off of Devern Hansack in the 8th inning, extending the Yankees lead to 7-1 with a shot down the left field line. He is at .333/.385/.667, and is tied for the team lead with 3 HR’s and 10 RBI this spring. Those will be his final totals, being that he was sent to minor league camp after the game, but I am now certain that we will see him before 2009 is through.

2) AJ Burnett was once again awesome, allowing 1 hit over the first 5 innings before tiring a bit in the 6th. He has always pitched well against Boston, and last night’s 1 run over 5.2 innings performance was no exception. Burnett has talked a lot this spring about his recent transition from being a thrower to becoming a pitcher, and the results have been obvious. He works efficiently, and focuses just as much on causing poor contact as he does on striking people out.… Click here to read the rest

Chamberlain, A-Jax, and Albaladejo Impress, Igawa Falters

A few notable performances from the last two days:

1) Joba Chamberlain seems to be rounding into form, allowing just one run on four hits and five K’s in 3.1 innings. Although he still needs to do some work in regard to finishing off batters and reducing his pitch count, he seems to be about ready to slot into the 5th starter role. He needs a few more starts to get stretched out to 100 pitches, at which point the Yankees will use him sparingly over the first month to conserve his innings.

2) Jonathan Albaladejo, who will be the subject of a longer post at some point tomorrow, continued his excellent spring with 1.2 scoreless innings. The Yankees are going to have a number of relievers who may not make the team despite having MLB experience as well as excellent springs, with Albie and Dave Robertson leading that pack.

3) Edwar Ramirez and Jose Veras both faltered a bit, but neither looked poor enough to loosen their grip on a bullpen spot.… Click here to read the rest